Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta recap Ravens' 2012 draft
Ravens will now turn attention to signing undrafted free agents
By Chris Korman
7:33 PM EDT, April 28, 2012
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and his likely successor (some day), director of player personnel Eric DeCosta, met with the media right after the Ravens selected Georgia defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson with their final pick of the 2012 draft.
They seemed pleased with the draft, in general, but preoccupied with their next task: signing undrafted free agents. The Ravens have done well in that area but face a unique challenge this season. According to DeCosta, only three players on their 150-player board went undrafted (and all had medical issues). Usually, 20 to 25 go unpicked, and the Ravens then focus on them when trying to come to free-agent deals.
Coach John Harbaugh was busy working with scouts to figure out whom the Ravens will make their first calls to. The frenzied signing period begins right when the draft ends. Generally, the Ravens have looked for depth on special teams and along the lines with their signees.
Newsome said the Ravens will come to agreements with all the undrafted players they want to sign by Monday, and that Harbaugh will convene a minicamp starting May 11.
Other quick notes from the session:
The Ravens picked four offensive players and four defensive players. That wasn’t by design, but it does reflect their feeling that the team is balanced at this point.
Newsome and DeCosta offered thoughts on today’s picks, saying that Gino Gradkowski’s versatility was important because they wanted a guy who could be on the 45-man game-day roster and play two spots. They like Asa Jackson because you can never have enough cornerbacks (or guys with return ability) and think safety Christian Thompson can help on special teams. Wide receiver Tommy Streeter was a rare combination of height and speed that the coaches are anxious to work with, while Tyson was important because, again, you need options along the defensive line.
Interestingly, Newsome acknowledged shifting some of the organization's scouting focus to smaller schools. Gradkowski, Thompson and Jackson come from outside the FBS, though Gradkowski and Thompson transferred from large schools. (Matt Vensel will take a deeper look at this in his story for tomorrow’s paper.)
DeCosta said the Ravens had to “manufacture some runs” this year during the draft, as they were forced to shift on the fly more often than in the past. “We had some guys we liked and they got picked,” he said.
Newsome praised the other teams in the AFC North for improving in the draft. (I’m not sure why I’m reporting that to you; it’d really be news only if he had done the opposite.)
As to why the Ravens did not draft a middle linebacker – because, in case you hadn’t heard, Ray Lewis is old for a football player – Newsome said the team is fine with its current group there (Jameel McClain, Dannell Ellerbe, Albert McClellan and Brendon Ayanbadejo.)